Mayors Beg DOJ To Pretty Please Let US Airways/American Airlines Merger Happen

Phoenix is home to a hub for US Airways. Mayor Greg Stanton is one of seven hub-city mayors to ask the DOJ to stop its lawsuit. (ZonaPhoto)

Phoenix is home to a hub for US Airways. Mayor Greg Stanton is one of seven hub-city mayors to ask the DOJ to stop its lawsuit. (ZonaPhoto)

While US Airways and American Airlines have had to indefinitely postpone their nuptials because the Justice Dept. decided the union might result in problems for consumers and the airline industry, the mayors of those cities that would be most positively affected by the merger are now pleading with Attorney General Eric Holder to see that these two companies obviously love each other and should be allowed to be together.

The letter [PDF] to Holder was signed by mayors Patsy Kinsey of Charlotte, NC, Michael “Yes, My Last Name Is” Nutter here in Philadelphia, Greg Stanton of Phoenix, Rahm “You Know I Used To Work At The White House” Emanuel of Chicago, Mike Rawlings of Dallas, Betsy Price of Fort Worth, and Carlos Gimenez of Miami-Dade County.

All of these cities have hub airports for at least one of the two airlines involved in the merger, and would likely benefit from the combined carriers.

“The combination of American Airlines and US Airways creates a better network than either carrier could build on its own,” write the city bigwigs. “American’s substantial operations throughout the central United States provide critical coverage where US Airways is underdeveloped. US Airways’ substantial operations throughout the Northeast do the same for American… This increase in passenger traffic will multiply the beneficial effects those airports have on jobs and our local economies.”

According to the letter, the mayors believe that the DOJ’s lawsuit to block the merger puts jobs and local businesses at risk in these areas.

“Without this merger, American and US Airways will be at a permanent competitive disadvantage to Delta and United, each of which has been allowed to build superior route networks through mergers that were cleared by the Justice Department,” point out the mayors, effectively asking why Holder and the DOJ so swiftly approved the Delta/Northwest and United/Continental mergers while suddenly putting up the stop sign here. “[E]ven worse than the impact on the merging companies, failure to clear the combination of American Airlines and US Airways will put our cities at an unnecessary competitive disadvantage to Atlanta, Newark and other hubs that directly benefit from the Delta and United mergers.”

When the merger was first announced in early 2013, the DOJ’s previous nonchalance regarding airline mergers and the fact that US Airways and American do not have a huge amount of overlap in their routes led many to believe that the deal would go through relatively unscathed.

But then in August, the DOJ filed suit to halt the merger, saying it “would eliminate competition between US Airways and American and put consumers at risk of higher prices and reduced service.”

The DOJ argued that both airlines admitted to being able to sustain themselves without the merger, even though American had recently filed for bankruptcy protection. It contends that consumers and the airline industry benefits from the continued competition.

We shall see if the mayors’ letter has any impact on the lawsuit, which was briefly delayed by the 16-day federal government shutdown.